Scientists Say: Explosion

An explosion is a chemical or nuclear reaction that blasts out a lot of heat, noise and expanding gas

purple and gold fireworks explode in the night sky over big ben

Firework explosions lit up the sky in London, England, with colorful lights on New Year’s 2023.

Dan Kitwood/Staff/Getty Images

Explosion (noun, “Ex-PLOH-zhun”)

An explosion happens when some substance undergoes a chemical or nuclear reaction that releases a lot of energy very fast. That energy blasts outward from the source of the explosion in the form of heat and expanding gas. It can also make a lot of noise.

Many different types of things can explode. Sticks of dynamite explode when their fuses are lit. Some metals explode when dropped in water. And dying stars explode when they start to collapse.

In a sentence

One explosion usually spells the end of something — but not for one repeatedly exploding star.

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Maria Temming is the Assistant Managing Editor at Science News Explores. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

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